– Eric Yavarone launched a game-changing three-run home run in the fifth inning, and Jeff Stoddard worked his best start of the season, stifling the North Adams SteepleCats en route to an 8-1 setback in New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) cross-division action on Tuesday afternoon at Fitch Senior High School.
After winning their first five games of the season against Eastern Division opponents, the SteepleCats (21-19) concluded their slate against the East at an even 5-5, as the Schooners (9-31) won their season-high third-straight game and continued to play the role of spoiler after a win over Vermont the previous night.
Both starting pitchers worked gems through the first three innings, but it was Stoddard whose brilliance prevailed over the long haul, keeping the ‘Cats off the board through seven scoreless innings. The lefty struck out a season-high eight batters while walking one and scattering four hits.
The SteepleCats would rally with a run and two hits in the bottom of the ninth, as Charlie Law (Rutgers) ripped his team-leading eighth bomb of the year to tie the franchise’s single-season home run record set by Bryan Vickers back in 2004, as that solo shot would account for the only North Adams run of the game.
Dan Kolodin (UC-San Diego) worked five innings and took the loss for the SteepleCats, allowing five earned runs on nine hits while striking out two and walking one to fall to 1-2 on the year.
In its first game since a 10-3 setback against Holyoke on Sunday, North Adams did not help itself with three errors committed over the course of the game while the SteepleCat offense was kept in check throughout. Now, with two games left against Danbury, North Adams will have to win both and get help from Holyoke in order to move from third place to second in the Western Division.
After three scoreless innings and missed opportunities by both sides to take an early lead, Mystic would get on the board with a run in the fourth, as two-straight singles and an error on a fielder’s choice attempt loaded the bases against Kolodin. The righty would limit the damage to just a run, however, benefitting from a double play that allowed the home side to move ahead, 1-0.
But the Schooners would strike for four more runs in the bottom of the fifth against Kolodin, as a one-out hit batsmen proved to be costly, as Andrew Santomauro singled home the second run of the game to double the lead.
After another single put two runners on, Eric Yavarone smoked his third homer of the year to straightaway center for a three-run blast, putting the Schooners ahead, 5-0, after five innings.
With new reliever Christian MacDonald (UNC-Wilmington) into the game, the Schooners would tack on another run in the sixth, as Nick Merrullo doubled with one out to put runners at second and third before Greg Porter would score on an RBI fielder’s choice, stretching the lead to 6-0 after six frames.
The Schooners would tack on two more runs on a well-manufactured offense in the bottom of the seventh, as both Matt O’Herron and Yavarone would score on separate sacrifice flies to stretch the lead to an insurmountable 8-0 margin.
Law would get the only run of the game for the SteepleCats by means of his solo jack to start the top of the ninth, but that would be the closest the ‘Cats would claw to within.
The SteepleCats conclude their two-game, daylong trip in the Constitution State with a game at Danbury later today. First pitch from Rogers Park is set for 6:30 p.m.